Five Eight (and a Half)

09 July 2008 · 6 comments

On my recent visit to the doctor’s office, a nurse weighed me and measured my height.

“How tall am I?” I asked. “I can’t ever get a good measurement.”

“You’re five-eight,” she said.

“Ah,” I said. “I thought I was five-nine.”

She laughed. “You’re like every other guy — always trying to say you’re taller than you really are.”

If I were a cartoon character, a little black cloud would have formed above my head. I don’t give a rat’s ass how tall I am. I’m not trying to be macho by claiming to be five nine. I weigh more than 190 pounds, for goodness sake! If I’m going to lie about something, it’s going to be my weight. I say I’m five-nine because that’s how tall I think I am.

Today I finally went to the sidebar at Get Fit Slowly to change my vital stats. Heaven forbid people believe I’m five-nine when I’m only five-eight!

As I was changing my data, I took a look at the vital stats from the doctor’s visit. I noted that the nurse had indicated my height was 174 centimeters. “That’s strange,” I thought. “Wasn’t I 175 centimeters before?” I checked.

Sure enough, when I measured my own height, I had come up with 175 centimeters. The nurse came up with 174 centimeters. But you know what? Here’s how those numbers convert to Imperial units:

  • 174 centimeters == 5 feet, 8.50393704 inches
  • 175 centimeters == 5 feet, 8.89763135 inches

So, not only was the nurse quibbling over about one-half of once percent of measurement, but she was also truncating instead of rounding. That is, she was lopping the fraction instead of rounding up to the nearest whole inch. I really am five-nine.

But just so you don’t think I have some sort of macho need to overstate my height, let’s all agree that I’m five-eight-and-a-half.

1 Josh July 9, 2008 at 07:31

What time of day was your appointment? Your height will vary throughout the day. Generally, you’re taller in the morning, as you’ve been lying down all night, and your spine has had an opportunity to stretch out. During the day, gravity compresses your spine, so that you can be perhaps half an inch (or more!) shorter by bedtime. So for maximum ‘macho’, measure in the morning.

FWIW, I’ve always measured my adult self to be 5’10-3/4″, or 5’11” for short. Last year, I got weighed and measured as part of an insurance exam. The examiner insisted that I was, in fact 6′ tall without shoes. They automatically add an inch for your height in shoes (which is, quite oddly, what they use for insurance purposes), so the insurance company believes, by their own measurements and criteria, that I am 6’1″ tall.

My (5’2″) mom was *so* proud. ;)

2 Joel July 9, 2008 at 10:24

You mention lying about your weight and not your height, but you didn’t quite explicity state the really important connection- that misstating (or misinterpreting) your height has a big impact on your BMI. Saying that you’re 5’9″ when you’re really 5’8″ is like lopping off 5 pounds, BMI-wise.

3 Tiffany July 9, 2008 at 11:18

I measure 5feet 5 3/4inches, but I round to 5’6” just because it is easier. If I say 5.5 people look at me and say “You are taller then that.”

I have been told that regular yoga will help keep your spine from compressing, so you will not get shorter, but I don’t know how true that is.

4 pam July 10, 2008 at 09:04

Running won’t help your height – people often lose 2 cm after finishing a marathon. Don’t worry this is only temporary! If you ran before seeing the doc, though, you may have measured on the short side.

5 Paul J. July 10, 2008 at 12:40

Yeah, I’m really glad you aren’t getting worked up over this–I’d hate to think what you’d do if you WERE macho :)

6 mrs darling July 12, 2008 at 09:36

jd Ive never seen anyone as into numbers as you. I just had to laugh at this. You are incredible! I have no idea what my height is carried out to the decimal point.

I have a friend whose husband is 6 ft. 2 in. She told me that whenever they move to a new house he pulls out the compass and positions the bed so that he is sleeping with his body aligned north and south. He claims that the magnetic pull of the earth lengthens his body somehow. He tells it much more complicated but thats the gist of it. You might reserach it and try that! LOL

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